Tell Them They Are Beautiful

She was tall and thin, and her long dark hair was naturally curly and complimented her dark eyes.   I was sitting next to her mother when she arrived to pick up her young son.  She walked over to her mother,  said a few words, called her son over and left.  She never made eye contact. “Your daughter is beautiful!, I said   “Oh, really?” she answered, “She doesn’t  think she is.  Her father and I made it a point to never tell her she was beautiful because we didn’t want her to become prideful.  We feel it’s wrong to compliment our children or tell them they are beautiful...” I was stunned. I knew the young woman’s story.  She had come from a very strict, rules oriented home.  She was not encouraged in much at home besides how she was supposed to act, think and feel according to the Bible.  That had been drilled into her head for as long as she could remember.  When she graduated from high school and got a job that didn’t  revolve around the church or her home, she began to receive the kind of attention and  affirmation that she had not received  at home.  She married a man her parents didn’t like, and she now had a child.   She was living with the cloud of her parent’s disapproval hanging over her head. I know that this mother was well meaning,  but I left that conversation feeling very sad, and resolved not to follow in her footsteps.  My children were very young at the time, and I couldn’t imagine NOT encouraging them in...

Just Give it to Me Straight!

I have been working out for several years. I  run, walk and  do some strength training.   I decided that I wanted to  try Pilates. I did my research and found a DVD meant for “beginners.” Then I anxiously waited for it to arrive. It finally came in the mail and I quickly tore the box open so I could start my journey with Pilates. On the cover of the DVD I saw an attractive lady wearing a cute  outfit. Her hair was perfect and she was smiling as she exercised. “This doesn’t look THAT hard!” I popped in the DVD and began. As I went through each exercise I noticed that she was  smiling, not sweating, her hair looked perfect, and she was in control of each move.  Me?  I got up half way through the workout and closed my bedroom door.  I did NOT look like the lady in the DVD! I was NOT smiling, my hair was NOT perfect, I was NOT in control, AND I was sweating! (And grunting! And groaning!)  When  I woke up the next day, I was aching ALL OVER. I mean, it hurt to walk. The lady in the video didn’t tell me THIS is how it would feel. She made it look easy AND she looked beautiful doing it. I  had been completely uninformed!  When I looked at the DVD I  saw a beautiful woman  on the cover. I imagined myself doing what she does with little effort. The truth is that not many people would buy the DVD if there was a picture of me lying on the floor on the front cover. How many people would watch a DVD if the woman was sweating,...

The Cross. Jesus. Grace.

For the last 15 years of my life, I have been surrounded by college students. I live among them!  Although in the early years I was busy raising two  small children and didn’t have much time to interact with them, as the years have passed I have had more opportunity to spend time with these young people, and many have  become a part of our family. In my observation,  a drastic change happens during the college years. You go from being a teenager to a young adult. You make many life changing decisions, like:  who your close friends will be, how you will spend your time, what habits will be established, what you will major in, where you will work, and in many cases, who you will marry. Much of the time there is a youthful excitement and passion about what life will be like, what they want to accomplish, and what they think things should look like in church, life, and marriage. Often it comes from lack of experience or from an idealistic view of what should be. Many young people are sure they know all the answers, know more than those who have gone before them, and are sure that they “get it” much more than their parents or older people do. It’s very challenging to be in my season of life and to listen to their hopes and dreams, (and answers for everything!) not wanting to discourage them in any way, but praying for an opportunity to somehow slow them down and breathe a little reality and perspective into their lives. Many  times they really don’t want...

Irritated with God

My new home was  beautiful! It had an open floor plan. In the living room was a fire place. The kitchen was welcoming and bright. There was an apartment in the basement we would us to serve people who need a place to live. It was in a quaint neighborhood.  I would finally be able to decorate a home after 22 years of marriage! I couldn’t wait to make it our home!  There was just one problem…It was all in my mind. I had decided that this is what was going to happen, and that this was what we needed. God began to show me that this was not what He wanted, and I was not happy! In fact, I was quite irritated with Him. After a draining year of  pouring ourselves into people, we felt like we had nothing left to give. Many people are facing financial difficulty these days, and so was the organization we work for. How would we pay our bills?  We thought this might be a sign that we were supposed to move, and it seemed only logical. I guess God wasn’t thinking logically… Week after week God provided for us. Generous people gave us gifts of money.  Someone gave us a refrigerator to replace the one that was not working. Someone even bought us a new couch to replace the one that was worn out. One night some friends drove up and unloaded a car full of food to fill our freezer. As my husband helped them carry the food into our home, he was in tears. Me? I was irritated. This was...

R.S.V.P.

    “R.S.V.P. is a French phrase, “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which means “please reply.”  If you are sent an invitation, the person sending it would like you to tell him or her whether you accept or decline the invitation. Etiquette rules followed in most Western cultures require that if you receive a formal, written invitation, you should reply promptly, perhaps that same day. It is the simple courtesy of responding to someone who was nice enough to invite you.” If you use Facebook, you are probably aware that you can create an event invitation and send it out to all your friends at once. All you do is create a page with the details of your event, and with one click of a key, you’re done. No trip to the store for invitations. No envelopes to seal. No stamps to buy.  Just….CLICK! Your friends are notified that they have an invitation, and all they have to do is go to the event page and click “Attending”, “Maybe attending”, or “Not attending.” They don’t have to pick up the phone or email in order to R.S.V.P. Again. Just…CLICK! It’s done! From the time that you send the invitation until the time of the event, your friends will get regular reminders. If you need to, you can write a message to all those invited in order to keep them updated on anything they may need to know concerning the event. I love the convenience of it! There are a few things that can cause it to be less than ideal.  Sometimes people don’t  check their event invitations. They ignore them. Sometimes people...

The Ache

Happy Canada Day to our Canadian Sisters!! We are incredibly blessed to have authors who hail from Canada and we wanted to wish all of our neighbors to the North a Happy Canada Day! May God’s blessings,  protection and peace continue to fall on Canada. image courtesy Amydeanne The Ache Aching.  Endless aching…and fever. Ahhh…Yes…don’t forget the fever. Chills and fatigue and aching tell me my body is fighting something. Fighting hard! It’s lasted so long this time.  I can’t seem to shake it. I wake up hoping it’s over. This is the day! This is the day I will be better! But…no…another day of aching. I sigh and make my way to the couch. It’s flu season!  And this year I didn’t escape it! I do what I can. Pain relievers. Rest. Fluid. I do what I can. And I wait… Aching. Endless aching…and prayer. Ahh…Yes….don’t forget the prayer! Longing and fatigue and aching tells me I am fighting something. Fighting hard! It’s lasted so long, this aching. I can’t seem to shake it. This fighting. I wake up hoping it’s over This is the day! This is the day it will be over! But…no…another day of aching. I sigh and continue on. Longing for relief from the inner battle, the battle with the world, the flesh, the devil. The battle.  We can’t escape it. I do what I can. Pray! Obey! Worship! Cling! Persevere! I do what I can. And I wait… Romans 8:18-24 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…For we know...

What does a Family Look Like?

Congrats to Pam J, winner of last week’s Family Counter Giveaway, Your First Year of Motherhood by Daily Guideposts.   “If a couple doesn’t have more than 2 children, I don’t think it is considered a real family!” I was talking with a friend, and she was asking for advice.  She shared with me that someone had actually said that to her!  I was stunned! I was in my early thirties.  My husband and I had started home schooling our  two small children.   We were enjoying the benefits of spending the kind of time with our children that home schooling allows, and it worked well for our family, but we were becoming burdened by much of what we heard in some of the settings we found ourselves in.  Debates about whether or not we should use birth control,  how many children makes up a “real” family, whether or not we should adopt children,  and what families should “look” like.  The picture of an ideal family was constantly being thrust in front of our eyes.  I began carrying the burden of how we would somehow make our family look like what we were hearing. Many years have gone by and God has been very merciful to us.  Because of my health, I was only able to have two children.  But make no mistake. We are a family!  With the help of my wise husband, and the grace of God,  I was gently steered away from that distorted way of thinking and put the  picture of the ideal family that we had been handed into the shredder!  God gave us...

I Was Never Called to Raise “Godly Children!” and a GIVEAWAY

1 Samuel 1:27-28 “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.’ And he worshiped the LORD there.” As my children have been growing into young adults, it has become more of a reality that I cannot MAKE them be godly.  I am not capable of “raising godly children”… and I was never called to “raise godly children!” As a parent I do not have the power to convert, save, sanctify, make them holy, or  make them a disciple of Jesus. But I have been called to  pray for them, be a godly person, and to do all that I can to take their hand and point them to God. I can point them in the right direction and be a living example of God’s grace! As a parent, this is what I CAN do: Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 6:7-9 I can teach my children….all the time.  I need to ask God to help me see the teachable moments throughout the day. Titus 2:4-5 I can be an example to my children by loving and respecting my husband (in how I speak to him and how I treat him) ,  living in wisdom and purity (in word and deed) , and taking care of my home (meeting the needs of my family and keeping an orderly home). Proverbs 13:24, Proverbs 19:18,  Proverbs 23:13-14, Prov. 22:15 I can discipline and instruct my children. Ephesians 6:4, Col. 3: 21 I need to discipline my children  AND love my children.  There should be a balance  so that...

God’s To-Do List

I like order. I like my house to be clean. I like everything in its place! It makes me feel “in control.” Over the years I have been learning that it is not necessarily a bad thing if everything is not in order all the time. That sometimes people call, drop by, or have a need. Sometimes things get left undone and God allows interruptions to enter our lives.  His plan is much better than mine, even if it means my bed doesn’t get made occasionally, or there are a few dishes in the sink! Serving God by serving others is more important. It’s okay if my floor is a little bit dirty if it shows that there have been a lot of people in my house that day. If my laundry doesn’t get folded right away but I’ve spent an afternoon talking with students and drinking hot chocolate, I’ve done what is more important at the time. It’s okay! Recently my husband I were talking and he asked “So, what did you get accomplished today?” I said, “I feel like I got absolutely NOTHING done today but get myself together!” I was feeling defeated. Then God started to flood my mind with the things I had done that day. HE reminded me of HIS “to do” list and what HE had for me to do that day. GOD’S “TO DO”LIST: Pray through the contact list on my cell phone and then text those I prayed for and let them know I  prayed for them. Text some key scripture verses to those that I know are discouraged. Take a walk with my husband. Pick up lunch at McDonald’s for an adopted family member. Sit down with my daughter and remind her that she...

Discomfort? Rejection? Sacrifice?

I have been reading through the book of Genesis and am being challenged by the life of Noah. Sure; I’ve read it before, but God has been opening my eyes and reminding me of some things. The days were evil and Noah was living his life faithfully before God. God gave Him instructions to build an ark. He obeyed. His obedience cost him quite a bit. He and his family were viewed as fools. Can you imagine what that must have been like? Most of the people at that time were either indifferent or opposed to Noah. While Noah built the ark, he preached. And he warned. Evidently, Noah’s preaching included a warning of coming destruction and a call for repentance. The pre-flood world consisted mostly of people who were distracted and “took no note” of Noah’s warnings. Day after day he would go outside to build some more. Day after day people stood by and mocked him. I’m sure that if this took place today, a lot of people would “unfriend” poor Noah on Facebook! After he was done building, he had to load up the ark with animals and his entire family, close the door, and listen as everyone on the outside died. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be on the inside of that boat and hear the people crying outside, and know that you had warned them and they wouldn’t listen…and now there was nothing you could do for them? Then he spent probably up to a year cooped up with all those animals—a floating barn! Not a cruise ship! But...